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Report rubbish on private land

The Council has a duty to keep any land that it owns, or public land, generally free from waste and litter. We carry out regular inspections and clear public land as necessary but if you need to report an accumulation of waste on public land, this should be reported via the Report a litter problem on public land webpage or via the Report fly-tipping webpage. The issue will then be passed through to the Streetsmart team.

However, the removal of litter or rubbish that has accumulated on privately-owned land is the responsibility of the landowner. Where we judge that the rubbish is significantly affected by rats or by waste which is hazardous or putrescible and inherently attractive to rats, we may intervene. Before involving us however, you should raise your concern with the owner or occupier of the land. This often solves the problem quickly and easily but if this fails, you can report the problem to us using the online form below:

Report rubbish or accumulations of waste on private land

The process for intervention by the council

We cannot intervene where the land is merely unattractive, overgrown or littered with mostly inert material such as rubble or old appliances. We take action where there is a potential danger to public health, for example where significant food waste has accumulated.

In general, the following applies:

  • If the waste is on private land, the responsibility always lies with the landowner, however the waste or litter got there
  • If the waste is on un-adopted land such as a back alley or private road or pathway, then although nobody may own the freehold of the land, the responsibility for its upkeep lies with all owners and occupiers who back or front onto the un-adopted land. We cannot take enforcement action on land like this due to the complexities of identifying those responsible, and the difficulty in reclaiming any costs incurred. Most back alleyways in Swindon are un-adopted and are the responsibility of all householders on the alley. We cannot take complaints about un-adopted back-alleys.

Our first job is to assess the seriousness of the problem. If it requires our intervention, we contact the owner or occupier of the land and ask them to remove the rubbish and return the land to an acceptable state. If our request is ignored, we may use enforcement powers however, it can often take weeks or even months to carry out the legal process in order to do this.

Last updated: 12 June 2018. Was this information helpful?

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